Dysarthria of Spinal Cord Injury and Its Management
The dysarthria associated with spinal cord injury (SCI) is characterized by speech impairments that reflect respiratory dysfunction and its downstream effects on phonation, articulation, and prosody. The exact nature of the dysarthria is determined in large part by the level of SCI and whether or not diaphragm function is spared. Individuals with insufficient diaphragm strength to breathe on their own must rely on ventilator support, which may help or hinder speech, depending on a variety of ventilator-related variables. This article provides a conceptual review of the underlying pathophysiology and effects of respiratory muscle weakness on speech produced with and without mechanical ventilation. Selected multidisciplinary interventions for the dysarthria of SCI are also reviewed.